Emotional abuse can be devastating and much more difficult to identify by the abused.
During research for my novel, The Artist’s Paradise, I explored the topic of abuse within relationships. Physical abuse is often identified by a close friend, an observant teacher, a co-worker, or even a physician. Physical abuse results in that black eye, the bruised arms, even a broken limb. But how can we recognize emotional abuse?
What is emotional abuse?
Since most emotional abusers are male and most abused are female, I will use those gender references. However, there are incidences where these roles are reversed
The victim of emotional abuse, perhaps better described as verbal abuse, finds the abuser methodically using degrading comments to destroy their self-esteem. This degradation can begin with name calling—stupid, idiot, ugly, worthless, bitch, etc.
The abuse is focused on errors, blame, and incompetence that may or may not really exist. But the abuser is cunning and able to turn any negative situation into a blame game. And the abused will repeatedly be told that they are the person in the wrong.
The abuse is cyclical. Once the abuser has created an emotional break in the target, he turns to comforting, supporting, and forgiving behavior. This forgiveness actually aids in reinforcing the idea that she is in the wrong and lucky that her partner overlooks her incompetence and allows her to stay.
As the victim becomes reassured by the abuser, the cycle returns, often with more destructive verbal abuse. The abuser’s plan is to break her emotional strength and gain total power over his victim. If a victim is aware of the scheme, it is feasible to track the abuse via calendar. The abuse cycle is often that predictable.
The abuser works to demean their partner and does enlist the aid of their children to also abuse mom. What child ignores the battle of power in their home? If mom is always wrong, than when the child wants anything, they go directly to dad. He spoils the children when they assist in mom’s abuse.
Please note that often emotional abuse can have elements of sexual or physical abuse. This is particularly seen when an adult is sexually abusing a child. I will not be focusing on sexual abuse, but I if you are a parent or teacher, I highly recommend you read Don’t Cry, Daddy’s Here by Brenda Carey. She is a survivor of sexual abuse and her story is well told. In the end of her novel, she lists signs to look for.
Is emotional abuse dangerous?
Many experts have come to the conclusion that emotional abuse can be more dangerous than physical abuse. The resulting self-destruction can lead to emotional breakdowns and even suicide.
Myths about emotional abuse
The general public does not recognize the willful cycle of emotional abuse. Just as physical abuse is planned, timed, and executed, the emotional abuser will recycle abuse on a shorter and shorter time frame to increase control. Most victims fail to accept the fact that the verbal attacks are rehearsed, timed, and deliberate. Therefore, they have given total power over their emotional wellbeing to the abuser. After all, who would believe that a loving partner, who continually forgives you of your failures could be attempting to harm you purpose.
Stop by next week to learn more about emotional Abuse Warning Signs.